FIFTEEN PEOPLE, INCLUDING an 11-year-old child, have been arrested after a night of protests across Northern Ireland.
One people officer was injured when violence broke out at some of the 80 protests held by loyalists to express their anger over the recent decision to reduce the number of days the Union flag is flown over Belfast City Hall.
An 11-year-old, a 12-year-old, two 13-year-olds and one 16-year-old were among the people arrested for public order offences.
The PSNI said the majority of protests were peaceful, with numbers ranging from small groups to hundreds of people. However disorder broke out at protests held in South and East Belfast, Portadown and Carrick.
Police have appealed for calm, saying that the violence “cannot and should not continue”.
“This is now the third week of protests and I am appealing to everyone involved to take a step back from this,” said Assistant Chief Constable Dave Jones of the PSNI. ”There were arrests [last night] and more will follow as we now trawl through evidence gathered by officers out on the ground”.
Christmas is less than one week away and now is the time to bring this to an end. I am appealing to those wishing to protest to consider how their actions are affecting the wider community who simply want to enjoy the festive period with their friends and families in peace.
Tensions have been running high across Northern Ireland since the motion was passed by Belfast councillors on Monday 3 December.
The homes of Alliance Party politicians were attacked after the party put forward a compromise to see the Union flag fly over Belfast City Hall for 15 days a year. A previous motion at the nationalist-controlled council had called for the flag to be taken down completely.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton condemned the ongoing violence during her recent visit to Northern Ireland.
Retailers say the ongoing protests are badly affecting Chrismas shopping as consumers stay away from areas where protests are being held.